So while you're all eager as ever to binge on backyard hot dogs and burgers, think about firing up your Le Creuset one more time for this subtle and sophisticated spoonful.
This starts like most soups, with a basic mirepoix. In this case, I've opted for subtlety by using leeks instead of onions. Their mild flavor doesn't overpower the soup. Potatoes make things more substantial and filling.
The really fresh part of this soup is the "au pistou"... which is just the French word for pesto. French makes you sound snazzy. This one combines fresh basil with garlic, tomato paste and parmesan -- simply mashed together with a wooden spoon.
When you're ready to serve, spoon a dollop of the au pistou in the bottom of the bowl and ladle in the hot soup. The mild soup melts the bold flavor of the au pistou into a beautifully subtle harmony.
Soup Au Pistou
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups diced carrot
2 cups diced red potato
2 leeks, diced
8 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 cup white wine
3 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups diced green beans
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup orechiette pasta
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Pinch of saffron
4 cloves minced garlic
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup olive oil
In a large dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add carrots, leeks and potatoes; sauteing for 5 minutes. Turn heat to high and add white wine. Once wine is fragrant, add chicken stock, water and salt. Reduce heat to simmer and cook uncovered for 40 minutes.
Once vegetables have softened, add green beans, cannellini beans, pasta, pepper and saffron. Simmer for another 20 minutes.
While soup is simmering, mash garlic, tomato paste, basil and parmesan together in a bowl; slowly adding olive oil.
Spoon 2 tablespoons of pistou into the bottom of each bowl; ladling soup over the top. Serve with crusty bread.